Stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen in suspended matter and sediments from the Godavari estuary
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Spatial distribution of the carbon and nitrogen content and their isotopic enrichment in suspended matter and sediments were measured in the Godavari estuary to identify the sources and transformation mechanism of organic matter. Significant variability in isotopic distribution was found over the entire length of the Godavari estuary, suggesting multiple sources of organic matter. The mean isotopic ratios (delta sup(13)C sub(sed) -25.1 + or -0.9, delta sup(13)C sub(sus) -24.9 + or -1, delta sup(15)N sub(sed) 8.0 + or -2 and delta sup(15)N sub(sus) 6.5 + or -0.9%) and elemental concentrations (C sub(sed) 0.45 + or -0.2%, C sub(sus) 0.9 + or -0.7%, N sub(sed) 0.07 + or -0.05% and N sub(sus) 0.16 + or -0.1%) support a predominantly terrigenous source. Significant enrichment in the isotopic ratios of delta sup(13)C from the upper to lower estuary in both suspended (-27.5 and -24.3%, respectively) and sedimentary (-26.2 and -24.9%, respectively) phases indicates a decrease in the influence of terrigeneous material toward the mouth of the estuary. A significant positive relationship exists between the delta sup(13)C of suspended and sediment, which indicates that these two organic carbon pools are likely coupled in the form of a significant exchange between the two phases. A positive relationship exists between chlorophyll a and suspended organic matter, which may mean that a significant source of organic carbon is the in situ produced phytoplankton. But, applying a simple mixing model to our isotopes, data yielded about 46% as the contribution of the terrestrial source to suspended matter, which may support the excessive heterotrophic activity in the Godavari estuary reported earlier.
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